Of Clouds and Education

Listed on June 28, 2014 in Blogs!

It is the time of the Glastonbury Festival and the weather is as dynamic as ever. Great clouds billowed over the site yesterday, as they promise to do today, the rain fell amidst the occasional flash of lightening and drum of thunder. As a Life Member of the Cloud Appreciation Society – whose headquarters are appropriately based here in Somerset – I am fascinated by the phenomena of clouds and the effects they can create both in the skies and on the ground. At this time of year in particular, the evening skies can put on quite a show. This brings me to another type of cloud which is equally as fascinating, not borne of nature but of culture. Word Clouds are cluster of words which are held in association around an idea or concept. Raymond Williams famously explored the slippery nature of words and their meaning and this characterisation chimes with the way ideas resonate. Ideas are like clouds in which words like water droplets coalesce into a large concept. Vague sometimes, nebulous often but always real, if only for a short time before morphing into something else or even evaporating before our very eyes.

Recently I was reading a piece about education, as you do, and someone had tried to describe the elements which it contained. Indeed, this was an attempt to put into words the best form of education which schools should aspire to in their work. The definition was effectively a Word Cloud – a jumble of words held in association to describe something more significant. The list was as follows: curiosity, courage, exploration, investigation, experimentation, imagination, reason, discipline, sociability and reflection. I am sure you would agree this is a pretty good list and without any one of those words education or its outcome, learning, would be impeded or impoverished in some way.  I think we should have fun in creating our own clouds and we should occasionally look up and dream as to what is going on above our heads beyond our comprehension and control.